Thursday, August 6, 2009

80s fashion redux, part 7: The Opulent 80s

(This is the seventh in my series of posts on 80s fashion trends and the impact they are having on current fashion. If you'd like to read from the beginning, please start with my blog of July 23.)

In my post from 2006, I wrote that the 80s were years of opulent, conspicuous finery. The 1950s were reincarnated in haute couture details and feminine lines, and no one designer symbolized this trend so thoroughly as Christian Lacroix.

This year, ironically, Lacroix himself is struggling for the survival of his design house, even while designers seem deeply influenced by his work. Marc Jacobs in particular seems entranced by the party frock à la Lacroix.

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton
Originally posted April 26, 2006:It almost goes without saying that 80s fashion experienced a renaissance of glamour and OPULENCE. It allowed the nouveau riche to feather themselves finely, even conspicuously. Party clothes were most spectacular, and couture looks permeated all the clothing markets.

In the atelier of Christian Lacroix, exquisite embroidery and beading were hand sewn--a return to traditional workmanship fit for a queen.

Victor Edelstein gownShoes, Antologia for CallaghanGlove, Christian Lacroix for Diego Della Valle. Silk parasol by A. Sanoma
Dress, Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. Purse, Pellegrino for Linda Dresner. Shoes, Stuart Weitzman

Update August 7, 2009:I end this with the sad irony I mentioned earlier: Just as opulent 80s-style party dresses are being revived by fashion designers, the master of the form stands with his future in limbo. In 2009 Christian Lacroix's fashion house, owned by duty-free retailer Falic Fashion Group, put the business into administration and laid off all but 12 workers.

Sarah Mower, writing for
, movingly described the last minute and shoestring-budgeted Lacroix haute couture Fall 2009 show as

one of the most poignant and emotionally fraught haute couture shows ever...only made possible by the collective will and donated time and skills of the seamstresses, embroiderers, jewelers, milliners, and shoemakers loyal to Christian Lacroix...Only the models were paid—€50 each, according to French law — but they too ended up in tears. "I didn't want to cry," said Lacroix, amid a standing ovation and a tumult of support from clients. "I want to continue, maybe in a different way, with a small atelier. What I really care about is the women who do this work."
His color palate was, for Lacroix, monumentally restrained, but the beauty, refinement and sheer loveliness (to use a 50s term) made this show, along with his ready to wear line for fall, preternaturally à la mode.
Lacroix ready to wear

Lacroix haute couture

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